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AABP students break cultural boundaries and stereotypes in Global Soliya Program
A group of Achievement Academy Bridge Program (AABP) at American University of Sharjah (AUS) are building their cross-cultural communications skills through the global Soliya Connect Program.
Starting next month, the selected 23 Bridge Program students will spend four weeks interacting online with students from across the globe, engaging in facilitated and substantive dialogue, and building meaningful relationships across national, cultural, religious and ideological boundaries. Since 2003, the Connect Program has linked students from 222 universities in 30 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Europe and North America to engage in dialogue and breakdown stereotypes and cultural barriers.
“I am very excited about Soliya Connect, especially about meeting people from different nationalities and learning about countries I have never visited before. I am keen to learn more about various social and political issues and to understand people's different perspectives. I want to learn about everything from food and lifestyle to delving into more serious topics,” said Fay al-Mutairi, an AABP student from Kuwait.
Sessions will occur once a week for the duration of the program. In addition, participating students are required to submit weekly journals and write a reflection paper at the end of the program. The program’s activities are designed to help students develop their critical thinking, cross-cultural communication and media literacy skills.
AUS is firmly committed to providing its students with experiential learning and giving them opportunities to enrich their education through immersion in another culture. At a time when travel is extremely limited, participation in the Connect Program allows the Bridge Program students to experience other cultures and establish a deeper understanding for the perspectives of others around the world on important socio-political issues.
“We’re thrilled to be working with the AUS Achievement Academy Bridge Program. We’ve had hundreds of young people from AUS participate in the Connect Program since we first began our partnership in 2006, and we’re very excited to have more students begin their virtual exchange journeys this fall semester through our new collaboration with the Achievement Academy Bridge Program,” said Nahid Ahmed, Director of Soliya Connect Program.
In addition to the Soliya team members who will be supporting the students, AABP instructors Jenifah Abu Hassan and Raja Mallek Bahloul will be working closely with the students to ensure their needs are met.
"I am ecstatic that my students will have the opportunity to 'virtually' go beyond their homes and meet other students from California to Indonesia. I hope they will meet amazing peers and facilitators who will broaden their horizons. With the Soliya Connect Program, they should gain deeper insights on how the world works and see life through the eyes of others. Eventually, I hope they make lifelong friends who they will visit when the pandemic is over," said Abu Hassan.
Jessica March, Director of the Achievement Academy notes the students’ participation in this program aligns with the Academy’s goal to offer diverse learning opportunities to students to enrich their experiences. She further added: “The communication and discussion tasks will give AABP students further scope to develop their language skills in real life contexts.”
The Achievement Academy Bridge Program helps new AUS students improve their English language skills and prepare for university success, while enjoying everything AUS student life has to offer. Students typically spend a semester or two in program before moving on to their major field of study.